Friday, July 10, 2009

United Breaks Guitar and more!

A few months ago, as I landed back from a snowboarding trip in SFO, I realized that my new snowboard bag had been cut over two inches during the handling. To cut such a thick nylon cover, the handler must have tried very hard! When I complained at the United Airlines desk, the employee looked at me in disdain, saying that this was not enough to be called a "damage" and that - of course - she could not do anything for me. Unfortunately, I am not a musician, so United got away with it.

Today, United did not: David stroke back at Goliath using the power of internet technologies.

It all started on March 31, 2008. Dave Carroll and his Sons of Maxwell bandmates were sitting in a plane at O'Hare, waiting to disembark when a fellow passenger cried out:

"My God, they're throwing guitars out there."

They looked out the window. They saw a United worker tossing one of their guitars. Carroll discovered later that among those flying instruments was his $3,500 Taylor, which ended up smashed. And so began a nine month saga of trying to get United to pay for the damage. When the airline wouldn't, Carroll made a decision. He said on his site:

"I promised the last person to finally say 'no' to compensation ... that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world."

He followed through with his threat. He posted his country ode, "United Breaks Guitars," on YouTube Monday. Since then, the video has been viewed more than half a million times and is a hit with the media.

United apologized, plans to use the video internally to help "change its culture," and, according to a spokeswoman for the carrier:

"We are in conversation with one another to make what happened right."

The lesson here? Don't piss off a musician (and don't fly United yet!)